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If you think Taste of Hillcrest is spread out, then you haven't been to Taste of Adams Avenue! Luckily, this event includes complimentary trolleys to get you around. We had media passes for this year's event but the usual price is $35/person or $40 the day of. There's four hours to sample and you get one taste per location. More official event info is here. I'd consider this taste to have three main areas, west of the 805, east of the 15, and the big section in between! Let's explore!
CENTRAL ADAMS AVENUE part 1
The majority of the restaurants are located between the two major highways. We started our journey at the closest restaurant to ticket pickup.
The Rabbit Hole wasn't ready on the dot like we were but at least we had first dibs over the growing line! Soon wing samples came out with crispy skin beneath a "spicy" marinade. Lucky for me there was more flavor than heat!
Next door was Burnside with a banh mi version with pork belly and pho broth for dipping on the side. We didn't use the dip but found the sandwich tasty other than a little too much hoisin sauce.
Jyoti Bihanga provided a great vegetarian meatloaf with a tangy sauce plus mango lassi to drink. They called it a 'neatloaf' and it contains grains, soy, eggs, and ricotta cheese. Dennis didn't even realize it was missing meat!
At Lestat's Coffee, we enjoyed a red velvet cheesecake, surprising if you consider that we're generally not cheesecake or red velvet fans. We also had a blood orange tea that could have brewed a little longer but I was still sad when I lost my cup within 10 minutes... must have set it down accidentally. =/
Dennis was very impressed with the Dao Fu noodles, scrumptious curried flavor without being oily. Even the tofu from here had soaked in flavor though the sesame ball was typical.
I just love the brightness Viva Pops brings! The blood orange flavor was fierce and fresh but the strawberry lemonade was a little more icy and watery in comparison.
The El Zapare taco was strangely chilled but otherwise, a nice combination of fish, pico de gallo and a complementing guac sauce! They also had a chicken version.
Liquid Eden Water Store provided two flavored waters. The basil strawberry flavor worked well as an light enhancer but the jalapeno garlic was a bit too odd due to the garlic bite.
Across the street was the Incredible Cheesecake Co. which let each person sample 2! We tried lemon, raspberry, baileys creme, and coffee.
WEST ADAMS AVENUE
We caught a trolley and crossed the 805 freeway to the west area of the taste.
Our next stop, Sabuku Sushi experimented with a new creation that day, breaded squid karaage on a skewer with wasabi cilantro aioli and unagi sauce. Dennis thought the taste was similar to dried squid inside with a overfried oily exterior.
We were super excited about Senor Mangos and they did not disappoint with their vast selection of samples: mango pineapple smoothie, strawberry banana smoothie, acai with strawberry and granola, chopped up fruit with sweet cream coconut and almonds, and fruit salad with cottage cheese on top. The hardest part was picking just one! I got mango pineapple and Dennis picked the acai.
Soda & Swine was serving their banh mi meatball, one of the flavors we didn't try at a previous visit. The smoky meat didn't seem very Vietnamese though, only the addition of the pickled veggies and cilantro made it that way. BBQ sauce doesn't seem to go with this meatball flavor for us.
A few blocks from the main street was Chris' Ono Grinds Island Grill. This longest wait of the taste got us crisp tacos - the smoked salmon combo'ed well with the slaw and sauce. We actually came back at the end of the event with our friends and their sample had changed to another meat (second picture).
Hanna's Gourmet sampled a curried meatloaf that was a bit eggy mixed with rice and topped with almonds. I found it interesting but wouldn't have minded a little more spice to it.
The next place was Twiggs Bakery. The pulled pork had a rub of coffee, cumin and smoked paprika but tasted too peppery and charred. The desserts were a super sweet passion fruit cake and a white velvet cake with a strong frosting.
Cafe 21 served a decent strawberry crepe, but the rest were less than favorable: the portobello was way too salty, the gluten free fries were somewhat soggy and the handmade potato chips weren't too special
Chi Extraordinary Kitchen was still under construction but they still served a yummy sole filet with tamarind and ginger sauce, red rice, steamed veggies, and a three mushroom thai salad. When they officially open (if not already), it's going to be a pescatarian thai restaurant! Probably one of a kind!
We decided to walk to the last place, Circa... it ended up being almost a half mile distance! I should have labeled it FAR WEST haha! The mousse dessert here was light and airy but we were feeling super thirsty after our long walk! I recommend the shuttle for next time!
At least we caught the shuttle back to the opposite side of the map. Brilliant idea!
EAST ADAMS AVENUE
We hit Kensington Cafe first on this side. The vegan chili with crema and green onions was fantastic with a thinner consistency that wasn't too heavy. The baked french toast with mixed berry compote was probably good but I was not in the mood for dessert anymore... we were getting so full!
Clem's Tap House gave a few options to try. Good for beer lovers.
I was ecstatic to see a place called Moosie's Ice Cream on the map... I'm not much on desserts but I LOVE ice cream! I was in heaven with their chocolate dipped strawberries, especially on a hot day!
Village Vino sampled tomatoes on crostini plus a kale salad.
Vida's Juice House was a refreshing stop with drink choices of Jamaica, Horchata, and Pineapple Water. Dennis's jamaica disappeared instantly! The pineapple water was too light for me and not sweetened. They also had a yummy pineapple salsa with chips.
I grabbed both pizza flavors from The Haven Pizzeria. Even though I was pretty full, I was content with the veggie pizza and enjoyed the roasted brussel sprouts with bacon on the other!
Everyone said Ponces Mexican Restaurant was the best but we found the shrimp taco with honey-chipotle sauce to be disappointing... it had been sitting out on the table for a bit.
CENTRAL ADAMS AVENUE part 2
We were already heading toward the center area so continued walking to the next location.
Cafe Cabaret had this unique drink with ginger and lemon that was potent but sweetened with honey. The mediterranean pizza was standard fare.
For the coffee drinkers, Backyard Cafe sampled their iced coffee.
We noticed Subway was on the map and we got a chocolate chip cookie from them. Nearby was Tam's Thailand with fishcakes that were a bit overcooked and not as fresh, possibly since it was less than an hour til the event ended?
Dimille's Italian was the buffet of the event. The pastas were ok but I liked the sweet marinara lasagna best. The pizza was quite thick though, and maybe better described as a breadstick!
Our last and final stop on the map was Blind Lady Ale House. We made sure to wait for the fresh pizza batch and were rewarded with delicious thin crusted pizzas with excellent toppings!
There's a lot of distance to cover (it stretches 2 miles total) but there were some great samples for this taste. It's also possible to hit all 31 (we heard another group nearby claim victory as well) but it did take 3.5 hours for us! I'm always happy to discover new restaurants so definitely recommend exploring the neighborhood through events like this!
Disclaimer: We were provided tickets for this event but the opinions are our own.